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Eric Peterson, Published January 22 2011

Vlcko bills himself as a program builder at MSUM football open forum

Aaron Vlcko thinks he can help Minnesota State Moorhead return to football success because he has helped turn around programs before.

“I really feel like I’m a builder,” said Vlcko. “I have been able to build programs and the way I’ve been able to do that is build relationships.”

Vlcko was on the MSUM campus Friday to take part in his open forum. He was the last of four finalists to make a case for the MSUM head football job. The Dragons have won just two games in each of the past three seasons.

Vlcko, 39, was a finalist for the MSUM job in 2006, a job that was ultimately given to Damon Tomeo.

“One thing that intrigues me is he’s been a finalist for several head coaching jobs out there,” said MSUM athletic director Doug Peters. “He is an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks. … When he was on campus last time, he impressed a lot of people. It was good to bring him back after four years and see where he fits into things.”

Vlcko has 16 years of coaching experience at the college level. Vlcko served as the interim head coach at NCAA Division II Truman State in 2009.

That was his lone season as a head coach. It’s a role he wants to fill again on a permanent basis.

“The opportunity to be a head coach I feel you can have a greater impact on the student-athletes,” said Vlcko. “That’s something I feel I’m ready to do.”

Vlcko has familiarity with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and also has family ties to the area. Vlcko was an assistant football coach at Bemidji State from 1996-2003. Vlcko’s wife’s father and grandfather are MSUM alums.

“For me my family is what drives me to make career decisions,” Vlcko said. “My wife’s family grew up here.

“What I want to do here is create a family atmosphere. I’m a family person. It’s one of my priorities. If hired here, you will see that.”

Vlcko was the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin-Stevens Point last season. The Pointers scoring average increased from 25.2 to 33.1 points per game in Vlcko’s first year. Stevens Point also increased its rushing average from 122.7 to 174.7 points per game.

If hired, Vlcko said he would hire an assistant to run the offense. He would be flexible on what kind of offensive system the team would run based on his personnel.

While Vlcko has been an offensive coach his entire career, he would put an emphasis on defense.

“We are going to build our defense first,” Vlcko said. “Our team is going to get built from defense and special teams and then we’ll work on the offense from there. … Our emphasis is going to be on stopping the run. The good football teams in this conference as well as the country are able to stop the run.”

Peters said his goal is to still name a head coach by the end of the month. He said “it’s possible” he could name a new coach by the end of next week.

“We’ve taken this long,” Peters said. “I want to make sure I get this right.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com